By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.6
In many respects, the all-new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is a lesser car than its predecessor. The standard engine is far less powerful, the rear suspension is less sophisticated and the interior is no longer over-the-top refined. But it is roomier and more affordable, and that's just what Volkswagen thinks America wants. Yes, some of the Jetta's more discriminating devotees will be disappointed, but the new model will attract far more buyers than it loses. And even with the cost-cutting, the Jetta is still fun to drive and still has one of the category's finest interiors. Last three words: Outsider moving in.
Interior quality, driving dynamics and individuality are still Jetta strong suits. Now that prices are down and roominess is up, Volkswagen's perennial best-seller can even appeal to your practical side.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta's 115-horsepower base engine is the weakest in the category, and the lower prices still don't qualify the Jetta as a value leader (but its historically strong resale values don't hurt). Tech-savvy buyers wouldn't be wrong to expect more from the Jetta.
The 2011 VW Jetta is an all-new car with an all-new look, but the key changes can be summed up in two words: bigger and cheaper.
Driving Impressions Not everyone who buys a Jetta does so for things like steering feedback and roadholding ability, but European driving feel – for less than $20,000 – has been one of...the Jetta's greatest strengths for decades. Thankfully, given the simplified suspension and added length, it still is. The familiar 2.5-liter engine is punchy if short-winded, and the five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are just fine. Highway ride is firm within reason, and highway noise is on the quieter side of the category spectrum. We're eager to drive a Jetta with the smaller, 115-horsepower engine and smaller wheels - not because we think we'll love it, but to find out just how severe the penalty is.
We haven't yet driven the 2011 Jetta TDI, but we're such big fans of Volkswagen's popular diesel engine that it's already one of our favorite Jetta features.
The Jetta's newfound rear-seat roominess is welcome and useful, but the deep, massive trunk is a sight to behold.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta interior in a nutshell: more room, cheaper materials. Rear legroom, which was tight in the outgoing model, is up 2.7 inches and now best-in-class. But in areas where you'd find premium-like, soft-touch materials in the outgoing Jetta, the sixth-generation model features hard plastic. Moving up the trim ladder does buy a little more flair, and it's still among the nicest interiors in the class, but we wouldn't call it a $30,000 interior like we did the last Jetta's (and the current Golf's). The Jetta's huge trunk is also worth noting, as is the unremarkable sound system. Volkswagen's decision to put the USB port in the glove compartment could madden some whose phone and portable music player are one and the same.Exterior
The biggest Jetta ever measures about three inches longer than its predecessor. Some were hoping for more expressive sheetmetal, but we think it's a tasteful design that will stand the test of time. Exterior differentiators throughout the lineup range from small, 15-inch covered steel wheels on the base-model Jetta S, to mirror-integrated turn signals, front fog lamps, chrome accents and 17-inch alloy wheels on the Jetta GLS.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S starts under $17,000, but with a weaker engine than its competitors and a pedestrian list of standard equipment. Highlights include air conditioning, power locks/windows/mirrors (with one-click up/down on all four windows) and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with auxiliary audio input. A full complement of standard safety features includes electronic stability control and six airbags.
A loaded 2011 Volkswagen Jetta GLS features a 2.5-liter 170-horsepower engine, six-speed automatic transmission, leatherette seats, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, heated seats, touchscreen navigation/audio with six speakers and SD memory card slot, Sirius satellite radio, moonroof, rear disc brakes, and keyless entry and start. The SEL trim also offers a Sport package with a lowered sport suspension, sport-bolstered seats, aluminum pedals and unique door sills.
The 2011 VW Jetta powertrain lineup will quickly grow to include four engines and four transmissions. The bread-and-butter combo is the 170-horsepower five-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport-tuned Jetta GLI will match Volkswagen's renowned 2.0-liter turbo engine with its quick-shifting and efficient six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (or a six-speed manual). The Jetta TDI will offer the same transmissions as the GLI, but mated to VW's also-celebrated turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine. At the other end of the spectrum, the base model 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S will be saddled with a 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower four-cylinder engine that, when matched to the auto transmission, has to strain for 11 seconds before pulling the car to 60 mph. A couple years down the road, we'll get a hybrid Jetta.
115 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
125 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 (manual), 23/32 (auto)
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 (manual), 24/31 (auto)
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (GLI only)
200 horsepower @ 5100-6000 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1700-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: TBD
2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder
140 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 (manual), 30/42 (auto)
By kyle on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I absolutely loved my 2009 Jetta Wolfsburg (2.0T) but it was getting high miles so I thought I'd trade it in for the new Jetta. In hindsight, I really wish I had kept my MKV. This new MKVI style feels dumbed down and the quality is not nearly up to par with the MKV. Cheap plastic dash, versus the soft touch before. Leatherette feels much more rubbery that before. Then engine note makes me feel sad compared to the MKV. I still can't find a really comfortable seating position even after a year of owning it. The radio in this car is by far the worst I've heard of any car I've owned. The MKV had 10 speakers which put out some really decent range. The MKVI has 6 speakers that sound worse than a Fisher Price walkie-talkie. Even after upgrading speakers, the sound just isn't satisfying and all the doors have rattled the entire time I have owned it. I'm sure I could think of more but I won't bother. As soon as I break even, I'm trading it in, maybe sooner."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By harve on Thursday, January 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, roomy and economical."
Cons: "Needs a few more ponies under the hood"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Jetta gives you the interior space of a Mercedes C class with the price of a Korean car. The handling is best in class. The warranty was best in class. The 2.0 liter engine is rated at 114hp, yet you can stay with traffic with no problem, and you can wind it out without stressing the engine. I have exceeded epa gas ratings of 24 and 34 with 28 and 37 mpg. The interior is spacious and comfortable, with the rear seat folding flat for cargo and a trunk you can put a couple of bodies in. Included is a full size spare. No inflation kit or compact spare. The car is fun to drive, period."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Copper on Sunday, January 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, good styling"
Cons: "Sluggish engine and transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this car for nearly one year. Driving is sluggish with the entry-level engine. Fuel economy is not as advertised. First VW purchase and likely my last. Not impressed."
7 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By pat on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "truly over priced"
Cons: "cheap plastic interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Inferior interior, old fashioned look. Drives well, peppy great mileage, but why pay for diesel. Engine is quality, but overpriced maintenance and failure of many small components make it an overpriced purchase. Extended warranty is quite overpriced. I will return to Toyota."
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By CK on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Bought the Sportwagen TDI primarily for the fuel efficiency; having driven a number of TDI Golfs in the UK and getting over 65 mpg ('real' gallons!). A bit disappointed that with the US version I only get about 49 mpg (US gallons - or 56mpg UK gallons); we previously had a Fiat 500 and got 45 mpg. Further problem is the alloy wheels; having had the first service at about 6000 miles we were told that all four needed replacing/repairing at over $1000/$650; we have a VW Beetle with steel rims and use it alternatively on the same routes with no issues (and have had cars with alloys before, never with any problems) - maybe a size of car to rim problem - certainly the rims really aren't fit for purpose... . Despite these issues, it's okay (would have preferred a Passat wagon - but they stopped selling those in the US). It drives well, has good acceleration."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jason on Friday, December 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "peppy, good mpg, roomy"
Cons: "reduced quality from previous years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We typically LOVE our VW's and have owned several over the years...and now our kids own them as well. I has been several years since we purchased our last new Jetta and I can tel you that we have been quite disappointed in the "cheapening" of the car. They have made several reductions in quality and convenience that are greatly missed from our previous models. Hidden truck hinges are a thing of the past for VW, opting instead for large intruding hinge arms so I can no longer pack my trunk full. Gas struts on the hood have been replaced with a prop rod. Engine temp gauge is missing, which we watched all the time to determine when the engine was warm enough to turn the heat on. Leather is no longer an interior option, and it doesn't get nearly as good a fuel mileage as our last Jetta TDI (we got 49-51 consistently for over 400k miles, new car has yet to break 41mpg) If it weren't for the mileage of the TDI (even at the reduced milage it's still better than most out there) we would have opted for a higher quality vehicle. We LOVED our previous Jetta, we tolerate this one."
23 people out of 47 found this review helpful